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Tag: Age of Consent

The Age of Consent

guest post

A Guest Post by Bob who blogs at Some Questions for God.

This post is the result of a short email encounter that I had with a Church of Christ minister after I challenged him to give me a biblical pronouncement against pedophilia – to which – he immediately responded . . .”you seriously defending pedophilia?” – to which – I immediately responded . . .”No, I am seriously asking you to tell me what the bible (God) has to say about pedophilia”  — to which the Church of Christ minister had nothing to say.

My request to him was, ” . . . give me the exact age at which a child is no longer a child – and give it to me from your “Holy Book” where God lays down the law as to the age a child should be in order to be old enough to marry — old enough to have sex.”

Pedophilia is defined as sexual feelings directed toward a child.  I guess we can’t pass laws against what a person “feels,” but once they act on those feelings, those acts should rightly be considered unlawful and immoral violations against a child, as prescribed by the society(s) that we live in. I do not subscribe to the notion that pedophilia is a “sin” (and it looks like a lot of Christian ministers don’t either, based on the number of them who sexually assault children in their own congregations). “Sin” is a religious term used to control the ignorant masses.

We know that the God of the Bible is concerned with the eating of shellfish, the mixing of fabrics, as well as working on the “Sabbath”, but what about a 10-year-old girl – show me in the bible where God is concerned for her?

Since so many Christian enthusiasts claim that the Bible is the source book for moral standards, I just want to know where God lays down the laws as to the age children should be before they are old enough to marry – old enough to have sex?

If anything, it seems that the God of the Bible actually approves of pedophilia:

And Moses said unto them, Have ye saved all the women alive? Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the Lord in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the Lord. Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves. (Numbers 31:15-18)

Do I need to explain these verses, or can you, dear reader, just let your imagination take over and picture what was going to happen to these poor girls, female children, virgins, in the hands of these Hebrew soldiers, at the command of the Lord’s representative, Moses.

From the Wikipedia page on Age of Consent: In traditional societies, the age of consent for a sexual union was a matter for the family to decide, or a tribal custom. In most cases, this coincided with signs of puberty, menstruation for a woman, and pubic hair for a man.

The first recorded age-of-consent law dates from 1275 in England; as part of its provisions on rape, the Statute of Westminster 1275 made it a misdemeanor to “ravish” a “maiden within age,” whether with or without her consent. The phrase “within age” was later interpreted by jurist Sir Edward Coke (England, 17th century) as meaning the age of marriage, which at the time was twelve years of age.

The American colonies followed the English tradition, and the law was more of a guide. For example, Mary Hathaway (Virginia, 1689) was only nine when she was married to William Williams. Sir Edward Coke “made it clear that the marriage of girls under 12 was normal, and the age at which a girl who was a wife was eligible for a dower from her husband’s estate was 9 even though her husband be only four years old.”

In 17th-century Spain an official legal document of the central council of the Inquisition of Madrid (The Suprema) written in 1614 stated that “adults” were then considered to be “women over twelve and men over fourteen”.

In the 16th century, a small number of Italian and German states determined the minimum age for sexual intercourse for girls, setting it at twelve years. Towards the end of the 18th century, other European countries also began to enact similar laws. The first French Constitution of 1791 established the minimum age at eleven years. Portugal, Spain, Denmark, and the Swiss cantons initially set the minimum age at ten to twelve years.

Age of consent laws were, historically, difficult to follow and enforce: legal norms based on age were not, in general, common until the 19th century, because clear proof of exact age and precise date of birth were often unavailable.

In the USA the age of consent has been all over the place – In 1895 the state of Delaware’s age of consent was 7 years old.

My great-grandmother was married at age 15 in 1891. 

My great, great, great grandmother was married at age 12 in 1841.

Now that I think about it, perhaps it’s a good thing that the bible doesn’t offer any guidance on the age of consent, because if it did, in the US we would likely have 13-year-old girls forced to marry 40-year-old preachers.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Bruce Gerencser